Sunday, 27 April 2008

Cragging in the sun at Kingussie

Today Ron was going over crag rescue skills at Kingussie with Sara and Chris then afterwards, as it was such a lovely afternoon, we enjoyed some slab climbing to ease out way back into rock climbing again after winter and then something a little bit more tricky back on the upper tier.
Nice to be back rock climbing and in the sun too!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Smudge and Moppet enjoy the mild weather!

A mild day here in Aviemore and the cats have decided that it's time to explore the garden again!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Lurcher's Gully, Cairngorm

Out ski-touring today on Cairngorm as it seems the weather is about to change and get milder and wetter. We walked from the ski area for a little bit before sticking the skins on and making our way up Lurcher's Gully. It was hard work skiing into the wind but oh, so easy on the way back down with the wind propelling us along.

Point Five, Ben Nevis - 21st April

Another trip to Ben Nevis with Point Five as our aim. On other occasions whe Point Five has been the planned route, the weather and the great quantities of spindrift flying down the gully has meant that other routes have been a better place to be. Not on Monday though! The snow had settled a lot since I was there last Wednesday and whilst it was windy on the walk in, the climb itself was actually quite sheltered.
I lead the first pitch on nice ice into which the picks of the aces just sunk in soundly. Ron had the second chimney pitch and when I came to climb it, I enjoyed the easy movement up the steep ice with bridging out to either side making it all feel very much in balance. The third or Rogue pitch was also Ron's lead up the ramp of ice which steepened at the top. Again the ice was just perfect.
Above that I lead one long pitch over little icy pitches and long snowy ramps then we moved together with a variety of different runners between us for the long snow slopes above to the cornice.
We ended the day by climbing down No 4 Gully and, once back above the CIC Hut, we watched a skier ski down No 3 Gully - very impressive!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Smith's Route, Ben Nevis - 16th April

An early start from Aviemore and I'm off to Ben Nevis for the first time this winter!
Ron and I arrived at the car park and there were only a few cars there which was surprising as good conditions normally mean no parking. The new path up to the dam made the walk in more of a pleasure compared to sliding about on the mud on the old path and it made the walk so much shorter.
It was a bit windier than we expected and the spindrift was blowing down our chosen routes so we opted to plough through the snow in Observatory Gully towards Smith's Route. There was one party ahead of us heading towards Smith's and another heading to Tower Scoop.
When we reached the bottom of Smith's the stance was a bit sketchy but the belay was good and Ron lead off on the first pitch. I followed on lovely ice to a belay just below the cave. Ron had belayed just below the cave under a little overhanging roof which was great as it gave shelter from any ice that could have come down. The first few moves looked steep but the actual climbing was good with little ledges for the feet and good placements for axes. What followed, I couldn't see!
When it came to my turn to follow, I enjoyed the first bit up to the icicle where I began to think how on earth do I get up that? I did, somehow, but with a lot of precarious foot and axe placements. I was glad I was the second! After that, eeaaah, hot aches and easier ground!
I lead the third pitch up easy angled snow and ice and Ron got the cornice...he hates cornices!

Ski touring at Cairngorm - 14th April

Another great day skiing and this time I spent the afternoon going up and down the runs at Cairngorm in great conditions though there was a bit of a cold wind. Towards the end of the afternoon, I skied over to Ciste Mhiread with Ron and we found some great drifts to play with then up and over Cairngorm and down to Windy Col on the most excellent snow.
We put the skins onto the skis and headed towards the Goat Track with the idea of skiing down but conditions at the top were a bit scary and scoured so back up towards the ski area and down the Coire Cas headwall.
I never realised skiing could be so much fun!
Photos and a video clip are here

Friday, 11 April 2008

Another fun skiing day at Cairngorm

Cairngorm was gleaming white this morning against a blue sky background so it was back up for another day's skiing. How long can these fantastic conditions continue? More snow forecast for tomorrow and reasonably cold temperatures seem to be continuing so maybe back to climbing next week. In the meantime, today was great.
I skied with Ron over to Ciste Mhiread on lovely untouched snow. In Ciste Mhiread there are some awesome snow drifts. I've never seen it with so much snow! We stuck on the skins to go back via the summit of Cairngorm. There were a few snowboarders about also enjoying being off piste but otherwise, away from the ski area, it was quiet.

Photos from Ron here

Thursday, 10 April 2008

A fun day skiing at Cairngorm

My first day out skiing on Cairngorm for two years and well worth the wait.
Most of the runs were open and I think I skied everywhere possible. The snow in the Ciste Gully was heavy going though and hard work. It made the skiing back in the Cas area seem so much easier.
It was a bit cloudy to begin with some snow showers giving a very wintry feel but as the day went on, the sun came out and wow, what great fun! Towards the end of the day, a well timed snow shower gave the runs a lovely dusting of fresh snow which made it feel very silky under the skis.
I normally ski on little, fat, freetrek snowblades so it was with some trepidation that I set out with what could be considered more normal length skis. After lots of wobbly moments, I think I started to get the hang of the longer skis and it all began to feel very enjoyable.
No photos from me but more from Ron here at

Thursday, 3 April 2008

La Grave ice climbing archive clips

Le Saut de la Pucelle, La Grave, 2006

Cairngorm ski touring - archive video

Just getting the hang of uploading video clips to You Tube and thought I would try with this clip first as it it possibly represents what ski touring conditions have been like on Cairngorm over the past few days though maybe just now there were bluer skies! Note that these are not clips from this year but then this is not a conditions reporting blog, just my stories...enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Aladdin's Mirror Direct

Another lovely day with sunshine and mostly blue skies though we could tell it was windy up on the plateau because of the distant roar of the wind and the speed of the clouds skimming past. It was totally calm in Coire an t-Sneachda and Ron, Gareth and I wandered up to Aladdin's Mirror Direct for a bit of ice climbing.
The ice was good though the bulges are steeper than they look. Instead of continuing upwards and into the wind, we abseiled back down to go back down for lunch in the sun. For Gareth, being out in the sun was a bit of a novelty as he has spent the past few days walking and camping in the wet over in the west.
All in all, a very sociable day spent blethering with Al and Derek who also climbed the Mirror Direct, Neil whom we watched ski down Half a Gully then Aladdin's Couloir and more who were also out enjoying the day.
Ron has more photos and video clips here

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Fluted Buttress Direct

Blue sky and sunshine again! Wearing sunglasses on the walk in to Coire an t-Sneachda is becoming a habit. The corrie itself was beautifully blanketed with snow and our route, Fluted Buttress Direct, had a lot of snow on it, very little good ice and was a great place to be on such a lovely day. We did get showered with spindrfit at times which added contrast to the day.

The climbing was, for me, tricky but it was interesting to work out where the little rock ledges were that a cramponed foot could be delicately placed to allow a step up. The axes generally pulled through the soft snow so the climbing was "all in the feet" to quote Ron.

For photos and a video clip have a look at